Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to continue campaigning aggressively in the Democratic primary. The business mogul signaled that Sanders has supplied him with ammunition to use against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
On April 21, Trump told his supporters at a Pennsylvania rally that Sanders’ rhetoric was denting Clinton’s reputation among voters, The Hill reports.
“He’s been tough on her,” Trump said. “In fact, I’d like him to keep going. The longer he goes the more I’m going to like it.”
Following their April 19 victories in the New York primaries, both Trump and Clinton are poised to face off in a general election matchup. Trump revealed that Sanders has provided him with a line of attack against the former secretary of state.
“He said she’s not qualified to be president,” Trump stated, referring to a speech Sanders gave in early April.
After claiming that Clinton was insinuating that he was not qualified for the presidency, Sanders had listed off her campaign contributions from Wall Street and support of trade deals as evidence that she was the candidate least suited for the job.
Sanders walked back his criticisms during the April 14 debate, when he clarified that he was not attacking Clinton’s experience but her judgment, according to NPR.
“Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and the intelligence to be president?” Sanders said. “Of course she does. But I do question her judgment.”
Trump pointed to this line as evidence that labeling Clinton’s qualifications had become fair game.
“Now what he meant is because her judgment is so bad -- so Bernie Sanders, not me, said she’s not qualified,” Trump told his supporters. “So now I’m going to say: She’s not qualified, OK?”
Trump’s comments seem to confirm the fears of Clinton supporters who were vocally worried that Sanders’ attacks on Clinton would become fodder for her eventual Republican opponents.
Following her victory in New York, Clinton leads Sanders by 277 pledged delegates, a lead that pundits have called insurmountable. The Clinton campaign has not called for Sanders to drop on the race but to scale back his criticisms of the likely nominee, Mother Jones reports.
The Clinton campaign’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, told reporters that Sanders “needs to decide as he closes out the Democratic primary if he is going to continue on the destructive path that he started down in the New York primary where he is making personal character attacks against her that mimic the attacks that Republicans make and aid Republicans, or if she he is going to end this primary the way that he promised to run ... that was focused on the issues.”
Trump has indicated the damage has already been done.
“It’s over for Bernie,” Trump said. “I don’t want to run against Bernie. I want to run against crooked Hillary Clinton. We are going to beat her so badly. Is there anyone more crooked than this woman?”